MemberMay 15, 2020 at 6:51 pm
Basically, I’m in the middle of writing a novel for kids (ages 9-12ish) and I’m stuck! My mother gave me this amazing idea for a novel when I was around 12 and I’ve been dreaming to write this novel since.
It’s about a girl in the times of the holocaust who has an imaginary friend. She kind of always dealt with life by running away with her imaginary friend and always blamed her imaginary friend on all her mistakes, etc- then, when the war breaks out she’s separated from her family and ends up in a concentration camp. Now, she deals with this huge, new problem by running away to an imaginary world with her imaginary friend every night. Meanwhile, she meets a girl in the camps who has a Tehillim and is always davening, always connecting to Hashem. But then, the girl with the Tehillim dies, but not before she gives her Tehillim to the girl with the imaginary friend. Then, the death march starts and she’s going in and out of her imaginary world- and then, finally, she falls over and a nazi is pointing a gun at her. Her imaginary friend comes and tells her to give it all up and come join her forever in her imaginary world…and she’s so tempted to join her and almost does until…she feels the Tehillim in her pocket and it gives her the courage to stand up and face life!
This is the amazing story idea…but I’m getting stuck in the part of the imaginary world. I need ideas for a super cool imaginary world that readers ages 9-12 would love to get lost in! Any input would be appreciated!
AdministratorMay 17, 2020 at 7:59 pm
Anyone with an imaginative nine-year-old who could help out Elisheva with some ideas?
Elisheva, I am wondering if you would consider choosing a different historical backdrop of a different period in time that might be less awful and more in-line with what a 9-12 year-old would be able to relate to. You are clearly a talented and creative writer and bursting with creativity! Personally, I avoid writing fictitious stories of the Holocaust. I find that it was much too awful and ghastly that fictionalizing it is almost sacreligious, at least to my mind.
MemberMay 17, 2020 at 10:47 pm
It certainly has to be something VERY pink and girlish because that’s the quintessential girly age.
I’m not sure how imaginary you want it to go.
– It can be a very fantastical world where everything is made out of pink cotton candy. You can have people floating on clouds of the stuff to get places. Their primary food is candy… very imaginary and fluffy (pun intended 😉
– or it can be a world where people have some sort of magical powers. People can imagine they’re somewhere and then they’re there. (This can be very nicely tied into the plot)
The fantasy setting needs to be a very positive contrast with the devastating holocaust setting.
– or you can make the fantasy setting be the modern world. you can have a very relatable modern day girl who’s communicating with a girl (her grandmother?) from the past. At the end, she realizes the only way she can get to the imaginary world is by living in the present. This can make for a very interesting theme: living in the present.
Like Riva said, the holocaust is a bit morbid for the age bracket, but I LOVE the storyline. I’m trying to think of another time period that’s less sad but can still incorporate this amazing plot. The problem is that any time period involving death is not to joyful.
Maybe you can use the idea of the girls stuck in monasteries or something… hmm…
I’m going to think about this. If I have any more ideas, I’ll post again.
Good luck Elisheva.
Can’t wait to read the finished book!! 🙂
MemberMay 17, 2020 at 11:05 pm
I was thinking along the lines of an imaginary world of herself.
She sees herself in a better place, a satisfied appetite, a stable home. She looks clean and comfortable. This imaginary “her” always has good advice, ready to listen and help her out.
She dreams of herself in fancy clothing, pretty face and lots of friends. But, when she is in trouble, experiencing a loss or going through hard times, she always has a mirror in her mind guiding her.
This might be a little too mature for 9 year olds… perhaps it’s more appropriate for teenage girls. Just sharing my thoughts… Lots of Hatzlucha! 🙂
MemberMay 18, 2020 at 1:09 am
Thank you everyone for the input! Maybe this story should be aimed more for ages 12-15…happens to be I taught fourth grade this year, and I started writing the book and was reading them a chapter a week (until Coronavirus) and they loved it! Some of the CDs they listen to, like about the inquisition, are way scarier…but I guess since the Holocaust was the most recent tragedy that happened to the Jewish people and survivors are still around, I can see why some would feel wrong fictionalizing it. I feel like I remember learning about the holocaust at that age but I went to a modern orthodox school, so maybe that’s not the norm in a Bais Ya’akov?
One idea that came to me over the weekend was to make it like a story within a story…make it that she goes on a journey within the imaginary world to find something or meet someone who can grant her a wish to stay in the imaginary world forever…
Maybe I’ll post chapter one when it’s all edited and I’ll see what everyone thinks…
MemberMay 18, 2020 at 4:21 pm
Reading this reminded me of something very interesting…
An Onion for the Doctor by Sudy Rosengarten is a book of true short stories. One of the stories is about a family on the Kastner transport, which ended up in Bergen-Belsen. It is told from the perspective of the family’s nine-year-old daughter, who escapes with an imaginary friend whenever the situation becomes too much for her!
MemberMay 21, 2020 at 5:48 am
This is reminding me about a concept I thought of when I was younger, the Cloud family. Possessors of an incredibly rare gene that enables them to fly/float, and to breathe in low-oxygenated air, they live on a floating bed of soft, cushy clouds, protected from the elements, unseen by enemies. Whenever necessary they drift down the ground in a quiet spot and scavenge for/stock up on food. The clouds they live on are always shape-shifting and drifting around the world, giving them a free world tour. The family, at total peace, is always cheerful, carefree and happy.
This could be the perfect escape for your character (your story is amazing by the way; so vivid and it had me hooked.) She and her friend (perhaps also her family?) would have a safe haven where, from their vantage point up in the sky, they could even be performing daring rescue missions to save fellow Jews from the Nazis.
The contrast between her tragic real life and the fun of her imaginary world would make this so emotionally dramatic. I can’t wait to see more of this!
MemberMay 21, 2020 at 10:05 pm
Hi Elisheva! I find this conversation super-cool and must thank you for sharing your idea here for open discussion. I have kicked around the idea of writing about a modern-day young adult who uses maladaptive daydreaming as a self-soothe/escapism technique. MDD is a rare disorder typically associated with prolonged trauma. I’m not a licensed clinician so I shouldn’t be the one to ‘diagnose’ your character or anything, but MDD seems to fit the bill 🙂
I happen to agree and disagree with you ladies about the character’s age. I personally believe you can create a nine-year-old or twelve-year-old character, but the genre of the book should be adult. The reason why is because you can write about the atrocities of the war through the eyes of a child who may not understand what is happening around him/her. Such a kind of perspective can be extremely raw yet creative because children are normally very imaginative. If you can nail flitting effortlessly and cleanly between the character’s imaginative thoughts and the terrible reality, you’ve earned yourself a die-hard fan here. I myself would benefit from such tips and techniques.
Best of luck!
MemberMay 22, 2020 at 12:50 am
Story Luver, thank you for your idea! It sounds like an amazing novel idea- I would love to read it one day- what’s stopping you from writing it?
I’m thinking to make the book a teen novel, but it would the type that adults read it also, since there is a deeper message…but not sure yet
And yes, fiction fangirl, MDD sounds about right… maybe I’ll research for this novel!
MemberMay 22, 2020 at 1:47 am
Lol I can’t do that for every idea, I’d own half a library by now.
As it is I’m in in the middle of writing out half a dozen ideas, with many more still cooking. I can’t afford to add another notebook to the mix just yet, my family is like, “Wait, another story?But what happened to that one you’re in middle of? And that one and that one?” Problem is I never finish the things I set out to write. They sometimes get longer, but there are no endings in sight.
Anyone can relate?
MemberMay 22, 2020 at 2:12 am
StoryLuver, are you my sister or something? Can I relate? Yes, I can. Haven’t finished any of my work aside for several short stories. But I made up my mind not to be cruel to myself by quashing the ideas that keep popping up. That’s why I decided to work on short story collection for all of those varying and constant ideas. Are your ideas enough substantial to morph into a novel? Or will a short piece do the job of telling the story? Because after four years of having several ideas simmer on the back burner, I realized that three specific ones were actually perfect components for a three-act structure for one novel.
MemberMay 22, 2020 at 3:54 am
Um, I guess I’m joining the non-finishers’ club. I’ve probably got half a dozen large chunks of novels (think 100 typed pages or so), waiting for me to return and tackle one day. The plots are fully-developed, and they are on their way… I just totally lose patience and get bored of my characters after spending too much time in their heads. I guess my plots aren’t engaging enough then and my characters too dull, if they bore even the author herself. Problem is that when I come back to face something I haven’t touched in a few years, it doesn’t ‘appetize’ me anymore. I end up being extremely critical of it, both of the entire plot in general, and of the specifics in the writing. And I have no way of turning these ideas into short stories. The character development and plots are way too lengthy; chopping them down just wouldn’t do them justice. It’s way, way more exciting to pursue new ideas then to flesh out the old ones…
Elisheva, I’m loving, loving how your storyline is slowly developing! Please show us more as you advance with it!
MemberMay 22, 2020 at 4:18 am
Wow! You nailed it! That is exactly my problem. At first I’m crazy enthusiastic, living, breathing and sleeping the story, and then at some point, (often when the story hits a snag) I lose interest completely, and how did I ever think this would fly, it’s way too out of the box and nobody I know is interested in this sci-fi style stuff.
(Seriously, anyone out there likes sci-fi? Nothing too heavy, near future with a few interesting inventions thrown in?)
MemberMay 22, 2020 at 2:44 pm
Ha that’s me also- I mean, I’ve been trying to write this novel since I was 12! And I start and then I remember my other novel and I start writing that…but I finally decided enough is enough! I actually found someone on masterpiece who agreed to help me edit my book! When you’re being held accountable by another person it gives more obligation…and more fun, since you know someone is reading your novel along the way…so thank you Riva for this forum from the bottom of my heart…I think my biggest problem with writing was solved…fact is, the reason the novels weren’t getting done was because I’m not a lonely writer type…I mean, it can take over a year to write a novel, and it’s like ‘but I want someone to read it already and admire it with me along the way (ok, and critique too!)
MemberMay 22, 2020 at 2:48 pm
I’m not a sci-fi writer StoryLuver (though I wish I was), but I would read your books when you publish them! I appreciate the craft 🙂 And I don’t mind heavy either, getting catapulted into a completely different world.
MemberMay 22, 2020 at 3:19 pm
OMG! I’m deep in middle of writing a novel. Now, masterpiece inspired me with two new short story ideas. I’m in a terrible conflict – write new short stories or continue plugging through my (dunno if it’ll ever get published) manuscript.
Then again, it’s always good to take a break. On most occasions, after a change of scenery, a breath of fresh air, you return to your project with renewed energy.
StoryLuver, I grappled with your dilemma for a long time. I have an awesome premise for a historical fantasy, but the idea is so different than your typical frum novels. I was afraid it’ll never fly.
I shared my idea with friends and family. They all loved it.
Then I realized it’s not the typical ideas that go viral. Behind every new outlandish idea was someone who broke the mold, who had enough confidence in their uniqueness to go out and share it with the world.
MemberMay 22, 2020 at 3:40 pm
elisheva, i LOVE the idea! i always dreamed of creating a historical novel with that magical touch. i think fiction fangirl’s idea is totally on point! cant wait to see it actually materialize! ill be cheering u on!
MemberMay 22, 2020 at 3:54 pm
StoryLuver- I hereby nominate you as the pioneer for frum sci-fi.
HappiWriter- You’re the designated frum historical fantasy candidate on the block.
You two: Churn out those stories! The frum literature market is desperate for unique ideas. You can introduce both genres on the scene and call it a day 🙂
MemberMay 22, 2020 at 4:33 pm
Elisheva Halle- things I started when I was 12? Totally! And yes, I guess I’m not a lonely writer either. That’s what I need– lots of (positive) commentary and pointed guidance.
MemberMay 22, 2020 at 4:59 pm
Yes, things I started when I was 12, too. In 5th grade we had to write a ‘My Goals for Fifth Grade’ essay, and mine was about my dream of publishing my very first novel! I sincerely thought I was being the very first 10-year-old to publish a novel! I printed out a chapter every few days and passed it around the classroom, all my classmates devouring it under their desks (to my teachers’ good-natured dismay) and cheering me on. Towards the end of the year (and about 40 chapters in), my computer was hit with a virus and completely crashed. I was utterly devastated and cried for weeks. My aunt (a computer engineer) spend a good 3-4 hours trying to restore it, yet only a few measly chapters were found. It was a complete trauma for me, really broke my morale. When I reread my ‘Goals’ essay (that the teacher returned to us at the end of the year), it set off a new torrent of tears. So…. since then I’ve really been a bit traumatized I think. Maybe that’s why I don’t throw myself into my work enough?
Elisheva, if you really go and finish this, just imagine that feeling…. I envy you for having the courage to go back to something from when you were young and taking it up!
MemberMay 24, 2020 at 2:53 am
Anagrammer- a person is only envious of something that’s already inside them- so says the Gemara, I think. Y’know what that means? You have it inside you to finish that novel that you started when you were twelve! I can only imagine how traumatized you were- and still prob are! Kudos to you for still following your dream!
BTW, totally off topic, but I love the Anagramm- read the book “Awareness” by Miriam Adahan cover to cover
MemberMay 24, 2020 at 4:21 am
Ha! I just realized the “Anagram” I am referring to is spelled Enneagram- it’s a type of personality system- never mind!
MemberMay 25, 2020 at 1:14 am
Thanks, Elisheva, but with a newer, more mature perspective, my novel plot makes no sense anymore. Of course, to ten-year-old me, it was perfectly reasonable that a Jewish home in war-torn Germany would turn into an orphanage of sorts to shelter a dozen forlorn, abandoned children whose parents had been taken to the camps. And that when the Nazis would conduct a search, every one of the children would be successfully hidden in record time in closets, armchairs and cabinets (yes, the house was large, a few stories tall). And that they would live out the six-year war together in that house and become a family of sorts and learn to get along. And that the biggest conflict in the plot is how the children relate to one another, and not the fact that there just happens to be a war going on right outside their window, which miraculously is totally ignored by every one of the characters for the majority of the novel. Unfortunately….or fortunately….this novel was doomed for failure even before the computer crashed. 😉
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